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UA Professor Elected to UCAR Board of Trustees

By Stephanie Doster | October 22, 2009

Kathy Jacobs, a professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, was elected this month to serve as a member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Board of Trustees.

UCAR promotes partnership and collaboration among 73 member universities and other institutions and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, all of which are dedicated to understanding atmospheric processes and the entire Earth system. The board of trustees steers the corporation.

Jacobs’ three-year term begins in February and is a departure from the norm, as she is one of the first non-atmospheric scientists to have been chosen to serve on the board; an ecologist—Jerry Melillo from the Ecosystems Center Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts —also will join the board in February but as an at-large trustee.

“This represents a unique opportunity to help connect UCAR’s investments in atmospheric science to public policy, particularly in the context of water and climate adaptation,” Jacobs said. She noted that her background in water resources management, public engagement, and climate change were among the reasons that she was asked to run for a position as a trustee.

A faculty affiliate with the UA’s Institute of the Environment, Jacobs has been working in various capacities for 28 years on state and federal water management, research, and policy issues, translating science for decision makers, incorporating stakeholder needs into policy decisions, and identifying climate change adaptation options for water management.

She spent 23 years as a water manager for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), where she focused on long-term planning and regulations for water sustainability, aquifer storage and recovery, water rights administration, and development of mandatory conservation programs for all water use sectors. She also was the state’s drought program coordinator for one year.

After moving to the University of Arizona, she served as a water management extension specialist and deputy director of the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas, or SAHRA. She also was the executive director of the Arizona Water Institute, an experiment in building collaborative solutions to water sustainability problems across Arizona’s three universities, in partnership with communities, water utilities, watershed groups, private sector interests, and Native American tribes.

Jacobs has been involved in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates federal research on changes in the global environment and their societal impacts; national climate assessments; and research and policy related to the sustainability of arid regions, and she has served on numerous National Research Council water and climate-related committees. She is currently chairing the NRC panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change.

Some of her recent work has focused on using climate information to improve management of the Colorado River and downscaling climate model projections for local water management planning.